Help Me Join Team Minimalist
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erikzen

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I've been working on putting together a sort of all in one headphone rig - something that sounds good enough to be my main headphone rig at home, but is also able to go on the road with me. My current rig is a SlimX imp-550, HeadRoom Overture DAC, and SuperMacro V3. Unfortunately, it seems there is no single solution for headphone listening. Compromises must be made somewhere.

When traveling on business, I've been known to leave my laptop at home just so I can carry around my headphone rig; but on my last two business trips, I've just found that carrying this multi-unit rig around is not always practical. Besides being cumbersome, there are too many opportunities for battery failure.

While I still want the ability to bring an "audiophile grade" rig with me for listening in hotel rooms and the like, I need something that is more pocketable and managable in a cramped airplane seat. For now, I have a set of Shure E3c earphones so all I'm looking for is a decent source.

Criteria (in order of importance):

1) Portability - Needs to be easy to carry on a plane or slip in a pocket for the daily commute
2) Sound quality - I don't want to sacrifice too much for the sake of convenience. Current portable phones are Shure E3c.
3) Good interface - I don't need mega storage as long as I can easily transfer files back and forth from my computer. Easy file navigation is a plus too, but not that necessary, as I'll probably just create playlists.
4) Good value - I'd like to keep prices in or around the $200 range. I can live with a flash based player.
5) Multiple codec support - related to items 2 and 3. I could live with straight MP3 if I had to
6) Interoperability - what I mean is, it would be ideal if this could fit into my main rig. However this would mean optical line out or at least a line out. iHP-1xx would be the ideal solution but I have reservations about spending $350 for a used, discontinued unit. Plus, I plan to keep my PCDP for more stationary listening.

Any suggestions?
 
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bangraman

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For an absolutely minimalist rig, something I find handy is the Creative Muvo V200 flash player, which I use with the Shure E5. It's fashioned in the same way as previous Muvos in that it splits in half to reveal a USB plug which you can stick straight into a laptop. I would say out of all the 'USB 2.0 compatible' flash players, the TX / V200 have been the fastest to load by a huge margin. The sound is also good for a flash player. The new Sony flash players have caught up in terms of sound but have drawbacks of non drag & drop loading as well as somewhat painfully slow loading speed.


A 1Gb V200 using 256K MP3 would hold a decent selection, and once you've 'run out' it's easy to fill up again from your PC.


If I were you (and I do travel myself often) I'd either listen directly from the laptop+soundcard (I have some family-size-lasagne-shaped batteries suited for the task
) or adopt an onion skin approach to your portable gear...and take what fits for the trip. The V200 is an excellent thing to just have in any case. I also use it to 'tape' meetings. Rec. quality's not hot, but perfectly usable.
 
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erikzen

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Quote:

Originally Posted by bangraman
A 1Gb V200 using 256K MP3 would hold a decent selection, and once you've 'run out' it's easy to fill up again from your PC.


Thanks for the recommendation. I will definitely look into that.

Quote:

If I were you (and I do travel myself often) I'd either listen directly from the laptop+soundcard (I have some family-size-lasagne-shaped batteries suited for the task
) or adopt an onion skin approach to your portable gear...and take what fits for the trip. The V200 is an excellent thing to just have in any case. I also use it to 'tape' meetings. Rec. quality's not hot, but perfectly usable.


I'm more inclined to use the "onion skin" approach than to use the laptop. I don't particularly like using laptops on planes unless absolutely necessary. Unless they are tiny, they don't fit well in cramped cattle class seats; and tiny ones have their own issues.
 
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erikzen

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I'm surprised nobody else has any recommendations for a good sounding, easy to carry, easy to use, digital music player. This is Head-Fi, isn't it?
 
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vranswer

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Rio Carbon with E4/E5 - SWEET.
 
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erikzen

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Do you like the sound of the Carbon better than the Muvo? I heard the Carbon before and wasn't that impressed with it, but I was comparing it to a unit with a line out hooked up to an amp.
 
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kramer5150

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My rig is a creative Muvo TX 512M, electric avenue PA2, and I have a choice of portable cans... e2c, KSC75, SR40, MDRV6.

I can configure things as needed depending on where Im going or what Im doing.

Im not terribly impressed with the built in amp on the Muvo... It gets plenty loud with all my cans but to my ears its a little conjested and muddy. BUT that largely depends on what im listening to and my mood at the time.

one things for sure the PA2 + Muvo is a GREAT sounding flash based setup. Very dynamic with my MS2.
 
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RockFan

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Have you checked out iRiver's H320? I know it's discontinued in the U.S., but it's still a great player, and meets all except the price requirements.
 
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vranswer

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Quote:

Originally Posted by erikzen
Do you like the sound of the Carbon better than the Muvo? I heard the Carbon before and wasn't that impressed with it, but I was comparing it to a unit with a line out hooked up to an amp.


Yep. Line-out to good amp will lick any headphone any day of the week, obviously. But Carbon's SQ is really solid, and has a usable EQ. Muvo is OK, a little puny, although E5s have no prob with it.
 
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bangraman

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Quote:

Originally Posted by RockFan
Have you checked out iRiver's H320? I know it's discontinued in the U.S., but it's still a great player, and meets all except the price requirements.



1) Portability - Needs to be easy to carry on a plane or slip in a pocket for the daily commute

There's a rather amusing picture I'd like to show you:
iRiver H320 + standard pouch, Sony NW-HD3 + standard pouch.
 
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erikzen

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Quote:

Originally Posted by bangraman
There's a rather amusing picture I'd like to show you:
iRiver H320 + standard pouch, Sony NW-HD3 + standard pouch.



Is that an iRiver H320 in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?
 
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erikzen

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What about an iPod Shuffle?
 
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DRSpeed85

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IMO the Iaudio U2 is the ultimate minimalist DAP. I sampled it a few days ago and sounds amazing. Iaudio have really good sounding DAPs and in Korea, they are considered to be the best sounding DAPs out there. Definitely worth considering.
 
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erikzen

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That's funny because I was just looking at the iAudio U2 at newegg for $175.
 
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